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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.




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New York 15, Steven 11, Us 7, Turkey 6, Nato 4, New York City 3, J.j. Ramberg 2, Msnbc 2, Colleen 2, Facebook 2, P.i. Ntrist 1, Google 1, The Name 1, Postling 1, Dot Co 1, Greg Nato 1, Multi Media Feedia 1, Ping 1, An American Express 1, Aysha Saeed 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    December 23, 2012
    4:30 - 5:00am PST  

bridal company. we have our team together. it is time for a "your business" makeover. hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. a few months ago, we came across a small bridal design company right here in new york. it is wa an interesting company, with what i thought were some really fabulous designs. but something on the business
side seemed to be missing. we found out that the company was in trouble. that's why we decided to step in and give the owners a "your business" makeover. ♪ >> when brothers, stephen spampinato and gregory nato started their company in 2008, they couldn't believe the initial reaction. at their very first trade show, while their peers snik erd, the bridal editors took notice. >> this tall elegant woman walked over to us and said, i love you have sleeves and collars. tell me the story. >> that's when i knew there was something about this business that's going to work. >> fancy new york was doing something different. nowhere in the collection would you find the common place long strapless dresses. theirs was vintage inspired, comfortable, primarily tea length dresses. >> the mood of our brand was to
have a nostalgic approach to dressing on your wedding day. >> the business was a dream come true for the two brothers. steven handled the business while greg foredid the designing. fancy new york turned out to be a roller-coaster of highs and lows. including emotional thank yous from happy brides and a feature in martha stewart wedding. the lows, pretty much everything else. >> i always have water at my throat for bill payments, constantly worried about whose the next person to call me up and say something is overdue or my check bounced. >> though their designs have struck a cord, their sales have not been robust enough to sustain the business or pay themselves a salary. the brothers have given themselves a six-month deadline to turn things around. if they can't, they'll have to shut down the business.
>> gregory will lose his retirement fund. it is gone. i will be in debt for the next 30 years. >> i'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we don't get there. >> hi, i'm jen. >> i'm gregory. >> thank you for doing this last minute. >> time for a "your business" makeover. ♪ >> in order to get a sense of the fancy experience, i went under cover as a bride under the guys of doing a story about last-minute weddings, our cameras were there to capture the appointment. >> i have to tell you something. i'm not getting married. i'm not even engaged. my name is j.j. ramberg and i work with "your business" on msnbc. we are here to give your company a makeover. to begin the overhaul of fancy new york, we assembled a rescue team. >> we first brought in business strategist, mike makolowitz who
had been pouring over their business. he operated a few important areas, first, the operation. steven's wife got a job in turkey in 2008. when he and his family made the international move, they decided to handle all of the dress manufacturing there. >> i would have loved to have opened a shop where i could have hired two steam stresses and done all the production in new york. it was cost prohibitive. >> i assume it is problem-free. >> i wish. when you have to ship anything anywhere in the world, you open yourself to a whole gamut of issues. >> with the manufacturing happening overseas, steven spends six months of the year in turk canky while gregory works alone in new york. between shipping, customs headaches and time headaches, the differences an issue. >> i have seen this. backfilling with lodge he can. a lot of decisions are made
based upon situations. then, all the logic comes in why that makes sense to do it. often, a decision backfilled with logic is a mistake. >> mike then dove into their sales strategy. they currently work with about 20 retailers across the country. in addition to their own shop, which they man themselves in new york, only four stores are selling their dresses in significant numbers. >> what we need to do is look what in your business has been working. patterns of success, you pursue. every 90 days in your business, sit down and say, what's not working? what is working? whatever is not working, you have to as quickly as possible get rid of that. whatever is working, you have to quickly as possible expand ton. >> mike summed up the meeting with a couple of final thoughts. we have a lot of fixes that are coming your way. the good news is, it is actually about doing less. there is a lot of stuff you are currently doing you have to have the courage to stop doing. we are going to show you what to focus in on. your business will turn. >> next, we brand in denise,
branding expert. while the brothers were out of town the week before, denise and i snuck into their offices and held a focus group. >> what do you think of the name "fancy" as it relates to these dresses? >> i didn't know it was a bridal. i didn't know it was related to bride. >> when i went online, it was kind of hard for me to find it, because there are so many things called fancy. >> what we learned about how brides perceives the fancy brand rs, and she shared it with geg grower and steven. >> the name fancy is too plain or generic or misleading for the forward-thinking dresses you have here. >> we came up with a few different name ideas. >> one was house of nato and one was nato new york. the first one we came up with, involving the script look. >> look at your face. >> wow, that's really good.
>> so the second option is very funky, retro-inspired. this has very strong lettering that you then on the web could have a lot of fun at looking through the windows at your different dresses and things going on on your website. it is very different. >> it is. it goes in a really different direction. it is really body. it is kind of fantastic. >> denise strongly recommended getting the brothers set up on pi pintrist. >> women love it. >> a perfect fit for brides collecting images. she offered to have someone on her team get them set up so brides could start pinning their unique dresses on their rds boo. the next person on our makeover team is a designer with her own successful line. it wasn't long ago that she was in the same spot as the fancy brothers. she was here to prove to them that things can be made
economically in new york. >> so here are two dresses. this one is one of yours, a fancy dress make in turkey. >> this is made right here in new york, about ten blocks from here. >> what do you think? >> can i also till you something. this one is $46 less than what you are paying for that dress coming from turkey, no shipping, no head ics a, no e-mails. >> how many? what do you need? >> you can get one made, ten made, 20 made. they will work with you. >> at the end of day one, gregory and steven had a lot to think about. they had a new name to consider, analysis on their sales strategy and poe toes to get for pintrist. >> you have to have more jawbone time, more face time. that means, steven, it is time to go back to your list. >> that's your homework. you need to think about all that. we're going to meet again and i
want to hear answers to all of these things. we have one more surprise tonight. in the meanwhile, go home, take a little rest and look your best for when we meet again. >> did steven and gregory listen to us? will they change the company name? will steven move to new york? >> to find out those answers as well as what else we have in store, hang around for the second part of our makeover coming up. like it or not, facebook's new timeline format is almost here. on march 30th, the new platform will be rolled out across the super popular media site. the changes are significant and will impact how brands talk to customers and leverage content. so what does this mean for your small business facebook page? >> jason keith is the founder and ceo of social media company facial fresh. >> thank you for having me. >> the last thing you want to do
is go on to facebook on march 30th and say, what happened to my page? >> you have no idea. your website went down. >> this is great. everyone should know, it is not that hard to change, at least to do some little changes. >> it is going to look very different right away. there are some easy steps that you can do to get you where you need to be. >> i have looked at some of the people that have changed their sites. photo. there is that big photo on top. >> is much more close to a real website. the biggest change is the huge photo the full width of the page. some businesses might have trouble finding an image to look that nice. >> what do you do if you are scrambling to find something and you don't have a designer to do it for you? >> i think the biggest two tips i would give is to use an iphone or a smart phone with the cameras. those are super high quality. take photos of customers, products, staff, try to find the personality of your business and
use that. another thing you can do is go on to or istock. you can find these images and a high quality image to use there. >> if you don't put something in right away, will it be blank? >> it will be blank. you can use photos that exist. most won't be high quality. log in a couple days before the switch happens and test it and see if you can find something that works. >> you can use photos throughout the site a little bit more. >> facebook wants you to remember one thing. they want you to use more photos. photos are the most reshared piece of content on facebook and twitter. people react to them very quickly. they are easy to consume. a low guilt factor. facebook wants you to get more reaction. to do that, they want you to use more photos. because of that, they have shown them much larger than a bunch of techs. >> it is fun for a brand, because it allows you to tell your story more through these
photos and you have a place to put your history. >> tell us that. >> i think it is really exciting that facebook is giving small businesses a place to tell their story very easily so they don't have to build the website themselves. the timeline has its name because it has date links on the side. you can add a milestone and put a photo with it. you can say, we were founded on this date. ford has an example where they have the first model-t rolling off the line. even old spice has made-up moments where they say they influenced the baby boom. you can have fun that will tell an interesting story and keep people on your page. >> we are all trying to tell our story. for people who don't know it yet, this is a nice way to start thinking about it and try and start organizing yourself. messages? >> that's a new feature in the admin. it allows fans to message you privately. it is important because what it
will do is potentially take complaints off of the wall of the page and give you more control over what shows up on the page and take those complaints into private conversations, which is where it belongs. >> for the admin session, what's different? >> not everything shows up on your facebook. not all of your fan page messages and fan messages are going to be on the wall. to manage that, there is a place in the admin called the activity log. loing in there. you can edit, delete, feature, have all kinds of control, sort through stuff. it makes a lot of sense of what is going to be a little complicated for some people. log in your admin and go to the activity log and it will give you control over what shows up on your timeline. >> this is great. thank you so much for this primer. everyone go to facebook right now and check this out. get ready for march 30th. >> thanks so much, jason. >> thank you for having me. social media can be an easy but time-consuming way to market your small business.
here now are five popular web-based services that will help you leverage the power of social media while keeping the time commitment in check, courtesy of business best. get more marketing mileage using diskus. two, buffer is a great way to schedule your social media activity. add posts and tweets and have them distributed throughout the day. three, postling let's you publish to all the major social media sites and schedule your posts in advance. it pulls comments from all the sites into one place. four, multi media feedia let's you manage your pages, schedule contract and track messages from one dashboard. number five, monitor what's being said about you online using spout social. this will track your social media efforts. so did steven and gregory take
our makeover advice? stick around as we bring in one of the biggest names in fashion to propose how this bridal dress company can change its ways. we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership.
as we saw earlier in the show, steven spampinato and greg nato, the owners of bride dal design company, "fancy new york" need some help. when we left their offices, we left them with a lot to think about, a new name, manufacturing strategy, marketing ideas. we also had one more surprise for them. take a look. >> hi, you guys. >> hey. >> you both look great. >> thank you. you do too. >> thank you very much. so you guys talked about how you are going to go to a lot of events but you are always on the outside. tonight, you are about to be on the inside. >> when gregory and steven started their bridal business four years ago, they had few contacts inside the fashion industry to help guide them. we decided to change all that by asking na net lapore who manufactures almost all of her clothing in new york's fame gar
meant district. sitti sitting down for a one-on-one conversation. >> you see something that looks like a potential mistake and you bury it in the back of your mind and it comes back. >> you are like, oh, my god, i had a sixth sense about that. >> after getting much-needed encouragement and advice, they left the meeting with a rolodex of new contacts and optimistic about the future. >> you are going to do a great business manufacturing here in new york city. i know t the facilities are here. you will have more control. you will be so happy and everyone in the garment center is ready and willing and able to help you. >> we are going to contact them
next. >> thank you. >> the next stop was the much-anticipated meeting with aysha saeed and her much manufactured contact, ping. >> nice to meet you. >> this is where their best-selling linda dress was made in the heart of new york city's garment district for $46 less than it was made at their factory in turkey. the brothers brought two more dresses for her to look at, evaluate and price for manufacturing in new york. >> we also do stuff like this. >> the brothers then rush back to their office to meet jamie hammel, a social media from denise's s-3 agency. he gave them pointers and tips on how to set up p.i. ntrist to spread their unique brand. >> this is the new hot, quote, unquote, social network. traffic alone, out trafficked. google plus, linked in and youtube since january, which is amazing. >> wow. the last stop on the "your
business" makeover express was meeting with me to talk through their homework and get some answers to the big picture question the team asked earlier in the week. first, the name. denise suggested they change from "fancy new york" to nato new york or house of nato. >> we decided not to change the name. we feel very strongly that girls don't shop by brand name. >> our name would have been irrelevant to put into the logo itself. however, it's not to say that we shouldn't tweak the game. it will be changing from fancy new york to fancy bridal. >> we broke it down to who are the best-selling stores. out of the 22 stores, there are five of five of them that do th best work and do the best business that we pay no attention to. and they're going to be our focus. >> and manufacturing, how did it go? >> amazing. really, really amazing. so the sample that we saw to the
die we brought two additional samples to the manufacturer. and immediately, right off the bat, she's like, that's funny. why are they doing it this way? if they stitch it underneath it will roll better. and so i was always looking for someone to impart a little bit of their knowledge and we're so excited about working here and just being able to run up and go -- pop in and say, hey, how's it going? >> reporter: and the big question about steven moving back to the u.s. from turkey? >> it's in the plans. so that october date that i have been talking about as our cut-off point is probably the date that beale be moving back. >> with their new factory, new sales strategy and new marketing plan and new contacts, suddenly, the october deadline didn't feel as overwhelming as before. you guys, good luck on everything that you're doing and i'm going to be back in october. >> october? >> october. you'll still be around? >> yes, we are, indeed.
gregory and steven have a lot to do over the next few months and we'll check back with them in october to see how things with going. in the meantime, mike is here with us now. we should mention that he's the author of the upcoming book with the pumpkin plan." and colleen is director of >> can i say one thing? >> yes. >> a little throw up came in my mouth when i came out wearing a dress. >> at least you're not wearing it today. you look great. >> this brillo pad of disgustingness. >> this is a lot of times when you go into a company like this with is, the problems are not that big. i mean, they're big in terms that they need to be changed and they will make big changes for your business, but having you come in and they were clear from
on outsider's perspective, it was clear you need to do this. and so, i think the lesson in part is, entrepreneurs need to take a step back and see, as you said, what's working. what's not working. really analyze it. >> almost take a scientific approach. that's what you're saying. these challenges aren't insurmountable in and you break it down and kind of come up with a very analytical way of dealing with them. that can work. >> and great analogy that if you take off in an airplane from new york to california, and you're off by one degree you end up in canada. the longer you continue off-course, even if it's small you get really far from your destination so they need to make small corrections to get back there but they need to make them sooner rather than later. >> the one we were harping on was 4 of 20 retailers were working for them and they were spending all the time on the other retailers so it's hard but you got to cut those customers out. >> you do. can i plug my book? i'm not even going to ask
because i'll do it. if you want to grow a giant pumpkin it the rotting diseased pumpkins you have to get rid of first to allow the nutrients to go to go big pumpkin. get rid of the diseased vendors. >> before you do, ask them why things aren't working out. same thing with unhappy customers. sometimes they can be a big source of information. find out what they don't like so maybe that can help you fix the problem. >> and contacts were so important. they were manufacturing in turkey because one of them moved there but they couldn't find a way to do it cost-efficient way to do it in new york city and when we introduced them to people we found, it is cost-efficient and gets rid of all those headaches and that was about meeting people and netd working. incredibly important. >> sometimes i think a lot of business owners have their head down in the business and they don't step out and do, you know, the networking that they should be doing and they're not thinking the big picture. they're so focused on getting through the day. and this is a great example of how, once you step out, you can
just see it more clearly, you know? >> they were a mistake every business owner makes. when it's not working they try to fix it. when it's not working, there's a reason. get rid of it and find a new course. >> i want to throw something out to the audience. the name. we had denise come in and try to suggest a new name and try to suggest a new logo and they decide to go from fancy new york to fancy bridal. the suggestion from denise was noto new york or -- i would love for you guys to weigh in on this. write to us on twitter at nbc your biz or on our facebook page. let us know what you think. >> i think it's a terrible name. i can't say it any other way. for the same reasons that the focus group mentioned, if you go to search online, all kinds of fancy listings will come out and probably none of them are a bridal salon and it doesn't say anything about these dresses. fancy is not a word i would use
to describe them. nostalgic or vintage or jackie o. >> you think it's okay? >> they are guys, they don't see what the consumer cease. let me give you the counterpoint. i'm the king of bad names. toilet paper emtis the worst entrepreneurial name. >> you got to own it. if you're going to keep it own it. >> this was so much fun and we'll, again, as i said check in with them in october. can't wait to see it. >> time to answer some of your business questions. mike and colleen are with us once again. the first one is an e-mail from robin and she writes -- i have a unique business idea that i would like to collaborate with existing businesses who may be interested in becoming a supplier or wholesaler. how would you go about choosing the vendors to participate? >> one of the things she has to
do is get people interested in whatever her idea is. >> she mentions a unique business idea. i wonder if she's tested it out. for any potential business owner or owner, i would recommend really, before you spend a lot of time, energy and money, jumping in to this and test out this unique business idea. it might not be something that flies. you might not think it's great. have a focus group. see if it's going to work before you invest a lot. >> when she tries to find the partners how does she find them? >> you got to start small. if you try to go to big vendors and say i want to collaborate with you and i want to help, they'll say, who are you? the smaller companies are looking to take a risk. i would look for the smallest vendors, willing to take a risk, propose my idea and be flexible so you are willing to change it. >> i think that's something she wants to do. work with kpising businesses. that's a great idea to partner up with an existing business that already has those relationships with the vendors
and suppliers. partner up. get your own track record and then once you have that, maybe those vendors will work with you. >> great advice. thank you guys for everything today. if any of you out there have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to our website. the address is openforum dot co .com/your business and you can address questions to your business you have a new idea or initiative that needs vetting but you don't have the time to wait weeks or months for answers? check out our website of the week. gut check gets you directly in touch with your target mercury through online chats. after specifying the kind of consumer you're looking for gut check connects you with qualified people for one-on-one chatroom interviews. if you want feedback on a new logo or advertising pitch files
can be shared with the interviewee with the gut checks chat ingin. each 30-minute interview costs you $40. to learn more about today's show, click on our website. open business. you'll find all of today's segments and web-exclusive content with more information to help your business kbroe. and at twitter what i is @msnbc your business. don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love you're feedback. next week, you might think there's no room for the small business entrepreneur in the world of cable television, but you would be wrong. >> i can't own a great big company. but i have ta same entrepreneurial spirit. i own it, i control it. >> meet one of the hundreds of small business owners who own and operate small-scale cable tv systems and hear how they found a way to survive in the world of the giant